Cappadocia Guide

Beautiful Cappadocia offers visitors a landscape of natural wonders that seems sprung from a dream. 

Cappadocia, meaning the Land of Beautiful Horses in the Persian language, comprises the provinces of Aksaray, Nevsehir, Nigde, Kayseri, and Kirsehir. Major towns include Uchisar, Avanos, Urgup, Derinkuyu, Kaymakli, and Ihlara. 

Millions of years ago, the volcanoes of Erciyes, Hasandag and Melendiz mountains erupted and covered Cappadocia with a layer of tuff. Over millennia, this tuff layer was eroded, producing earth formations that, in turn, inspired cave art that has carried the imprint of ancient civilisations to our times. The earliest human settlements in Cappadocia date to the Palaeolithic Period, and the written history of the region goes back to the Hittites. Throughout its history, Cappadocia has served as an important trading post and bridge between the various lands of the Silk Road.

In the Upper Miocene epoch, the volcanoes under the lakes erupted and spouted lava. The lava formed a plateau, a landscape that smaller eruptions constantly altered. During the Upper Pliocene epoch, the Kizilirmak River, together with lesser streams and lakes, cut deep into the tuff plateau, and the region gradually began to take its present shape.

Wind and rainwater flowing down the sides of valleys eroded the tuff structure, and sculpted the formations known as “fairy chimneys”. The principle type of “fairy chimney” in Cappadocia is the conical rock structures topped with a hat, either a cone or a mushroom shaped cap.

The Cultures of the Prehistoric Period of Cappadocia can best be seen in the following formations: Kosk Mound in Nigde, Asikli Mound in Aksaray and Civelek Cave in Nevsehir. The human settlement in Cappadocia began during the Prehistoric Period, and the era of Assyrian Civilisation in the region began during the Early-Bronze Age. Trading reached its zenith in that era, and it is to this period that the first examples of writing in Anatolia date. The “Cappadocia Tablets”, written in Old Assyrian cuneiform script, deal with methods of taxation, interest rates, and marriage contracts.

The early Haitian settlers were followed by the empires of Hittite, Phrygian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman, and each left its mark on the enchanting landscape of Cappadocia.

Cappadocia, situated on the principal trading routes of the Silk Road, was a meeting place for different philosophies and religions, each of which left a historical and cultural impression on the region. Christians who had left Jerusalem in the 2nd century AD passed through Antakya and Kayseri to arrive in Central Anatolia, and settled in the vicinity of Derinkuyu.

These early Christians, facing the oppression of the Roman Emperors, found refuge against raids in the subterranean cities of the region. Here the soft rock allowed the excavation of elaborate dwellings, food stores, water wells and cisterns, wineries and places of worship, enabling habitation for a prolonged period.

These unprecedented subterranean cities predate Jesus Christ, and have always provided a safe haven to people looking for peace and tranquility. They are the product of a perfect technique. Ventilation systems, air movement tunnels, safety and security systems, interesting techniques of the entry and exit parts, wells on the ground and garbage collection mechanisms amaze visitors even today.

It has been claimed that there are more than one thousand churches in Cappadocia. The construction, architectural details, artistic arrangements and decorations are awe inspiring.

Many of the churches have a basilica or cruciform plan, with a nave, narthex (vestibule), columns, arches, vaults and domes.

The fresco art that adorns the churches was the fruit of elaborate artistry. The maintenance, repair and restoration of these frescos continue unceasingly, and the subterranean cities and churches are open to visitors.

Following the arrival of Islam in Anatolia, Cappadocia became home for several famous Muslim scholars. In the 13th century, the Turkish Islamic Sufi Haci Bektas-i Veli settled in
present day Hacibektas County, where today a museum surrounding the tomb of the scholar is open to visitors. Haci Bektas-i Veli, credited with creating Turkish unity in Anatolia, based his philosophy on love of humanity, tolerance, solidarity and social equality, adumbrating the
i principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Every year international
ceremonies to commemorate Haci Bektas-i Veli are held on the 16-18 August, and visited by a large number of his adherents.

The “Ahi” religious order was founded by the philosopher Ahi Evran, who believed in the harmonious unity of morality and the arts. The order has developed in Kirsehir, and sown the seeds of love in the hearts and minds of the Anatolian people.

Ihlara Valley was created as the basalt and andesite intensive lava from Hasandagi cooled down, and gave way to cracks and subsidence. Streams found their way in these cracks, and the Melendiz Stream, called “Potamus Kapadokus” in antiquity, has eroded the bottom of the valley, bringing it to its present form. The Ihlara Valley is 14 kilometres long and starts from Ihlara and ends in Selime. The valley sides are between 100 and 150 metres high. There are numerous abodes, tombs and churches hewn into the rock face along the valley. The Egrita§ (Inclined Stone) Church, Agacalti (Under Tree) Church, Kokar (Smelly) Church, Yilanli (Snake) Church, Purenliseki (Calluna Terrace) Church, Kirkdamalti Church, Ala (Red) Church, Direkli (Pillar) Church, Fortress Monastery, and Selime Cathedral are among the must-see buildings.

Let’s try to solve the mystery of the white clouds surrounding us. They are doves, whose distinct and gorgeous flight style, sustained by quick wing movements, delights visitors. These beautiful doves nest along the valleys around Uchisar; in Kiliglar and Gulludere valleys of Goreme; Uzengi, Oita Hisar, Balkan Deresi and Kizilcukur valleys around Urgup; Cat Valley near Nevsehir; and Soganli Valley in the province of Kayseri.

In the Islamic belief, the dove represents devotion to family and peace, and in Christianity it represents the spirit of God. Dovecots have been carved at high spots all along the valley sides, and in the fairy chimneys on the south or east looking aspects.

If your camera is ready for the fascinating panoramic views, Cappadocia awaits you to capture them.

Uchisar is an attractive little town which is 7 kilometres away from Nevsehir. The Fortress of Uchisar is the best vantage point overlooking whole region.

We are approaching the “Belief Centres” sites where the mystic atmosphere intensifies. It is believed that, during the Roman Period, Goreme, which is 10 kilometres from Nevsehir, served the people living on the location of Avanos as a necropolis.

The Goreme Open Air Museum sits at the site where “the system of education unifying all Christian ideas” was developed by St. Basil the Great and his siblings. The architectural style and frescoes of the Tokali (Buckle) Church, The Monastery of Nuns and Monks, St. Basil Chapel, Elmali (Apple) Church, Yilanli (Snake) Church, Karanlik (Dark) Church, and Carikli (Sandal) Church retain all their old glory.

Cavusin is one of the oldest settlements of the region and is about 2 kilometres from Goreme. The church of Cavusin, built in 964 and 965, is decorated with scenes from the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ.

Zelve is another centre of Cappadocian architectural wonders famous for its church, the Pasabaglari, and the cell of St. Simeon.

Nevsehir is at the centre of Cappadocia, and Urgup, situated 20 kilometres to the west, is famous for Saint Theodora (Tagar) Church and Pancarlik Church which have remarkable religious frescoes.

The most impressive place of Ortahisar, which is 6 kilometres from Urgup, is strategically important “Ortahisar Fortress”. The best examples of the Cappadocian civilian architecture can be seen on the lower slopes of the hill, and the Uzumlu (Grape) Church is to the west of town.

Mustafapasa is 6 kilometres south of Urgup, and it was inhabited by Christians and Turks together until the beginning of the 20th century. The old Christian houses display examples of a splendid masonry.

The Sobesos City of Antiquity, at present day Sahinefendi Village, 30 kilometres from Urgup, is worth a visit. Excavations have revealed the meeting hall and bathhouse complex of the city. The meeting hall covers 400 square metres, and the main hall has a mosaic floor, a roof supported by columns and plastered walls. There are also two side rooms, one of which is a burial place and the other one has mosaics.

Tatlarin Subterranean City is situated 10 kilometres north of Acigol, in the province of Nevsehir. Its two underground levels are open to visitors. Given the numerous chapels, researchers believe that Tatlarin was not a civilian settlement, but either a religious monastery or a garrison. Well preserved frescos can be seen in the church on the site.

In Acik Saray Harabeleri (Open Palace Ruins) are numerous cells and churches that were hewn into tuff rocks during the 9th and 10th centuries. Mushroom cap type fairy chimneys can only be seen in this ruin in all Cappadocia.

Karabas, Kubbeli and St. Barbara (Tahtali) Churches are in the Soganli Valley which is in the vicinity of Yesilhisar of Kayseri province. Their fascinating architecture and fresco decorations make them very special.

The Eski Gumus (Old Silver) Church is a rock hewn church situated at Gumusler, 8 kilometres northwest of Nigde. Its frescoes are fine examples of detailed workmanship. Also Kavlaktepe, Pertek, Konakli, Baglama and Kayirli subterranean cities as well as Yesilyurt, Akdas, Andabalis churches are important for Christian visitors, Tyana city of Antiquity (Roman Period), Nigde Fortress, Akmedrese (White Madrasah), Okuz Mehmet Pasha Caravanserai at Ulukisla (Ottoman Period) are other important sites to visit.

The cave churches of Ugayak, Derefakili, Aflak and Aksakli in the province of Kirsehir are important examples of sites of worship hewn into rocks.

“The subterranean settlements” of Cappadocia have remarkable features. The most striking examples are Kaymakli, Derinkuyu, Mazi, Ozkonak, and Tatlarin. The Mucur, Dulkadirli, Inlimurat, Kumbetalti and Kepez subterranean settlements of Kirsehir province are also impressive. These underground cities served for centuries as refuges, and after restoration work are again open to visitors.

Visitors to Cappadocia, which is cited in the World Heritage List by UNESCO, also enjoy fine examples of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture. 

Some of the unique examples are as follows: The Egri Minaret, and the Alayhan and Sultanham caravanserais – examples of Seljuk period works in Aksaray province; the Sarihan Caravanserai (Seljuk) in Nigde province; the Urgup Taskinpasa Mosque (Karamanli Period) in Nevsehir province; and the Sungur Bey Mosque, Rahmaniye Mosque and Alaadin Mosque as well as Hudavent Hatun Tomb are highly impressive structures. In Kayseri province, some of the places worth visiting are Doner Kumbet (Tomb), Sirgali Kiimbet, Ali Cafer Kumbeti, Cami Kebir (Mosque), the Hunat Hatun Ktilliyesi (Complex), Kursunlu Mosque, Gupgupoglu Konagi (Mansion), Kara Mustafa Pasa Caravanserai, and Karatayhan Caravanserai. While in Kayseri, be sure to make a stop at the Museum of the History of Medicine, located in what used to be the Sifaiye Madrasah. This was the first medical school and hospital in Anatolia, and was built at the behest of Gevher Nesibe, a sister of the Seljuk Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhusrev I, in 1205. Magnificent works of historical and artistic importance in Kirsehir province include the Cacabey Mosque, the Ahi Evran Mosque, the Asikpasa Tomb, the Melikgazi Tomb, and Kesikkopru Bridge.

The Cappadocia Region provides an enchanting mixture of natural wonders and aesthetic elegance beyond its visitors’ imagination.

Exploring all these beautiful sights during an indigenous balloon trip is an ‘out of this world’

Balloon trips have become more popular since the Ballooning Championship that was organised in Cappadocia in 1997.

The skilled pilots of these hot air balloons having up and down control, enable you to have an unbelievable tour. The balloons sometimes soar to 3000 feet (approximately 1000 metres) and at other times touch treetops, utilizing ground wind or high altitude winds to travel overland in the desired direction.

The balloons generally depart in the early hours of morning from Goreme Valley, and passengers enjoy the sunrise above the enchanting geography of Cappadocia, and with a bird’s eye view they follow the ancient breathtaking fairy chimneys and the settlements
of Urgup, Avanos, Cavusin, Zelve, Goreme, and Uchisar, emerging out the darkness, washed over by the glorious sunshine.

Horseback Tour (Safari)

“The land of beautiful horses” can best be seen on the back of its legendary mounts, riding through wild valleys and ancient settlements. Horseback Safari is a group activity that enables you to enjoy the harmony of the horse and the rider with nature. Every group has an experienced guide who knows the region thoroughly, and tours generally last 2-3 hours, but can last the whole day. Longer tours, with tent or hotel accommodation, are also possible.


The history of pottery in Cappadocia goes back to Hittites. Pottery making first started in Anatolia during the Neolithic age (7th millennium BC) at Catalhoyuk (Konya), and, around the 2000 BC, the Assyrians of Mesopotamia brought the skill of terracotta pot making to their trading partners, the Hittites. The handicraft has been continued by the civilisations of the region to date.

The most renowned terracotta pottery producing town of Cappadocia is Avanos. The town is built on volcanic soil, and the silt carried by the Kizilirmak River as well as the good quality clay deposits make the town a suitable place for ceramic production. The red fat soil is processed and brought for hand turning at simple-looking workshops.

Carpet and Kilim Weaving

In Cappadocia, weaving, continuing since the Byzantine Period is more common in Urgup and Avanos. In Avanos the line pattern Kilim is also woven. Seljuk patterns are dominant in ancient carpets woven with root dyes. However at present the patterns from surrounding regions are also woven.

The numerous carpet shops display and supply local carpets as well as carpets from other regions. Here you can find almost any type of Turkish carpet.

Onyx-Stone Turning

In Cappadocia, stones have played an important role in daily life from past to present. Stones have been used for building houses and religious buildings as well as producing jewellery and decorative items.

The vicinity of Hacibektas is renowned for deposits of yellow, pink, red and milky onyx. There are also stones of mixed colour, called ‘marbled stones’. The onyx is designed and carved to make ornament belongings and house accessories.


There are many hotels and pensions in the region. If you prefer, you can stay, like generations of Cappadocians, in fairy chimneys or rock hewn dwellings operating as boutique hotels.


Shops and market places selling local handicrafts provide a wide palette of colours, patterns, and designs. Local onyx stone works are given a form which will appeal to your taste. The “rag dolls” reflecting the warmth and sweetness of the region with their colourful designs and costumes are mostly preferred by the collectors. Terracotta pots, tiles, statuettes of carved tuff and rock, hand woven carpets and kilims, as well as good quality wines should also be on your shopping list.

Do not leave Cappadocia unless: 

• You have visited Ahi Evran Mosque, (Cagatay Madrasah, Ihlara Valley, Guzelyurt, and Nigde Museum,

• You have enjoyed trekking on Aladag Mountain which is known as the trekking capital of Turkey,

• You have enjoyed rafting on Zamanti River,

• You have visited the rock churches, and seen the Byzantine frescoes,

• You have explored Cappadocia with a balloon,

• You have bought terracotta items, decorative items made out of onyx, copper, or leather souvenirs,

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• You have tasted the local wines…


Aksaray can be reached by highway.

Kayseri can be reached by air, highway and train.

Kirsehir can be reached by highway.

Nevsehir can be reached by air and highway.

Nigde can be reached by highway and railway.

We hope you visit and enjoy indescribable, unique Cappadocia.




  • Turkish-Greek Friendship, Brotherhood and Culture Festival

Organized by the Municipality of Guzelyurt every year in September

  • Aksaray-Ihlara Tourism and Culture Festival

Organized every year between 15th and 21st of July by the Municipality of Aksaray

  • Yunus Emre Commemoration Days

Organized by the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism every year during the first week of September


Darbogaz Cherry Festival

9-12 July Ulukisla-Darbogaz

Tyana Culture and Tourism Festival

First week of August, Kemerhisar

Ulukisla Grape and Culture Festival

Last week of September

Camardi Mountaineering and Transhumance Festival

July-August, Camardi



Urgup International Wine Competition and Vintage Festival

3-4 September

Avanos International Tourism and Handicrafts Festival

31 August-1 September

Nevsehir Turkoman Cuisine Feast
Every year on the third Saturday of September
Hacı Bektas-i Veli Commemoration Ceremonies, Culture and Art Events
16-18 August


Bard’s Festival

Organized every year in August by the Municipality of Kirsehir

Yunus Emre Commemoration Day

Organized every year during the first week of September by the Kirsehir Governor’s Office

Week of Ahi Culture and Tradesmen’s Celebration

Organized every year during the second week of October by the Kirsehir Governor’s Office



Week of Ahi Culture

Organized every year 10-16 October

Erciyes Snow Festival

Held every year, but the date varies.

Zamanti Rafting Festival

Held every year, but the date varies.

Mimar Sinan Commemoration, Culture and Art Week

9-16 April



AKSARAY – Taspazar Mah., Kadioglu Sok., No: 1
Tel: (+90 382) 212 46 88-213 24 74
(Info.) Taspazar Mah., Kadioglu Sok., No: 1
Tel: (+90 382) 213 24 74
Fax: (+90 382) 212 35 63

Guzelyurt- Guzelyurt İlcesi, Carsi Merkezi
Tel: (+90 382) 451 24 98

Ihlara – Ihlara Kasabasi, Vadibasi Girisi
Tel: (+90 382) 453 74 82 

KAYSERi – Kultur Merkezi, Seyit Gazi Mah.,

Ahmet Yesevi Bulv., No: 42
Tel: (+90 352) 222 03 63-222 08 98
Fax: (+90 352) 232 2581
(Info.) Cumhuriyet Meydanı,

Zeynel Abidin Turbesi Yanı, Melikgazi
Tel: (+90 352) 222 39 03

KIRSEHiR – Ahi Evran Mah., Ahi Evran Cad., No: 10

Tel: (+90 386) 213 44 43
Fax: (+90 386) 212 32 95 

NEVSEHiR – Yeni Kayseri Cad., No: 14
Tel: (+90 384) 213 42 60
Fax: +90(384) 213 70 45

Avanos – Tel: (+90 384) 511 43 60
Fax: (+90 384) 51143 60

Hacibektas- Tel: (+90 384) 441 36 87
Fax: (+90 384) 44133 94

Urgup – Ataturk Cad., Park İci No: 37
Tel: (+90 384) 34140 59
Fax: (+90 384) 34140 59 

NIGDE – Bor Cad., Kultur Merkezi Binasi
Tel: (+90 388) 232 33 93-94
Fax: (+90 388) 232 00 58

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